Sri Lanka – Culture Overload!

Another update without photos, I’m afraid. Not managed to find somewhere that we can upload pictures yet, though I’ll try harder in the next couple of days. We still have the Taj Mahal pictures to upload, and have since filled the 512mb memory card again!

We arrived in Sri Lanka late on Monday 7th February. We had a hotel room booked so got a taxi from the airport to the Airlink hotel. After being shown to our room (which was basic but looked okay) we started to unpack but noticed a cockroach appear from under the door. A big cockroach, maybe 3-4 inches long. One wouldn’t be a problem, but then more and more started to emerge from the bathroom, from under the bed and a variety of other dark locations. We put some roach-killing chalk down but this only worked slowly. After half an hour, with 4-5 roaches in their death throes around us we went and asked for another room, which was available, but at additional cost (what a surprise!).

The next room was fine, and we slept until about 7 when we got up and headed for our next hotel, the lovely Colombo House in Colombo.

Great room there, more of a suite in fact. Lovely old house with a balcony etc.
We went for a walk to absorb a bit of Sri Lankan atmosphere. The first thing that struck us was how much cleaner and better built everything was. The roads were less unruly, people seemed happier than in India, and it was lovely and warm, much welcomed after our last week of cold and rain in Delhi.

After a day of shopping and eating, we booked ourselves a tour of the Cultural Triangle through Mr Linton of Rail Tours, just close to Fort Station in Colombo. We would have a car and driver for 5 days starting out from Kandy which we would reach by train.

The train journey was very pleasant, 3 hours in the 1st Class observation car on the train. 1st class isn’t as posh as it sounds, probably equivalent to a dirty Standard Class train in the UK. We travelled up through the hills to Kandy, passing some lovely views of forested and cultivated hillsides.

On reaching Kandy we stayed at Mr Linton’s Blue Haven guesthouse, up in the hills above Kandy with beautiful views over a valley.

I won’t go into great detail on all the places we visited, but over the next few days we went to Dambulla, Sigiriya, Polonnaruwa, Mihintale and Anuradhapura, all part of the UNESCO Cultural Triangle of Sri Lanka.

We saw some amazing buildings, ruins, stupas (dome-shaped Buddhist shrines) and sculpture, most of which we took pictures of. As I say, I’ll upload some of the pictures when I can as they surpass anything I can say about them. We met some great people too, particularly Mr Peter Larsson (from Sunderland; good luckwith the teaching job, Peter), Kumar our driver, and Nuwan who guided us so well at Mihintale

After the tour we returned to Kandy, and caught a train to a hill-station town called Nuwara Eliya, about 4 hours away. We spent a day there, with a quick look around the town before heading to Ella, a small village in the Highlands surrounded by spectacular views.

In Ella we walked down to Ravana Ella Falls, before catching a bus back to the guesthouse. Ella is a lovely place, marred only by the excessive competition between the guesthouse owners. We stayed at both the Ella Gap Tourist Inn, and the Ravana Heights guesthouse, and both were very good, although very different.

On Sunday 20th we caught the train back to Colombo, a marathon journey of 11 hours (again in the observation car) which delivered us back at 10pm.

So that’s what we’ve been up to. The photos will take some weeding through but I hope to get them sorted soon.

Our next step is on to Negombo on Wednesday, one of the few beach places which wasn’t badly affected by the Dec 26th tsunami. We haven’t spent any time on a beach since Arambol, so we figured we could so with a bit of relaxation.

3 thoughts on “Sri Lanka – Culture Overload!”

  1. Hi there
    Your blog came up during a google search I did for my upcoming trip to Sri Lanka. I wondered if you could give us any tips for good beaches that have not been affected too badly by the tsunami, and perhaps good places to stay – something mid range, quirky and interesting, not five star. Any info would be much appreciated.
    Thanks a lot
    I could reply in kind about Vietnam if you are planning a visit, as I have been living here for the last year.

  2. Hi Ollie!

    It’s a while now since we were in Sri Lanka and I would guess a lot has changed. You may be better checking on the Rough Guide forums for people have been there more recently. We only visited Negombo which was only slightly affected by the tsunami and frankly it wasn’t a great place.

    Do make sure you visit some of the interior though, the hills around Kandy and the ancient cities are all worth visiting. We stayed at a place called Green Haven, near Kandy but I can’t find any info about it. That was booked through Mr Linton of Rail Rours at Colombo Fort Station.

    For somewhere to stay in Colombo, you can’t get much better than Colombo House ( which is a lovely old colonial house in the diplomatic area.

    Hope that helps!


  3. Mr Linton of Rail Tours is a crook. He sits at the Fort Railway station tourist offfice and fleeces his customers. He overcharged us for the trip to Nuwara Eliya and Ella. Besides he sent us a non-AC car when the agreement was for a AC car. He did not provide any refund. We should have suspected when this man was trying to convince us by flashing the lonely planet guide which had some British author thank him for some information in writing the book. Obviously this criminal is milking that. He charged us double for the room rents(i checked with the individual guest houses).

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